August 29 - Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

August 27th, 2021

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First Reading  Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8
Moses tells the Israelites to observe the commandments that God gave them.

 

Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 15:2-3,3-4,4-5
Those who do justice will find favor with God.

 

Second Reading   James 1:17-18,21b-22,27
James teaches that Christians should be doers of the Word.

 

Gospel Reading
Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
Jesus teaches that it is that which comes from our hearts that defiles us.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Sunday, our lectionary returns to Mark’s Gospel after a number of Sundays in which we heard the Bread of Life discourse from the Gospel of John. Recall that we focus on the Gospel of Mark in Lectionary Cycle B, but substitute John’s report of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes for Mark’s report of this event.

In today’s Gospel, Mark provides a significant amount of information about the Jewish observance of ritual-purity laws. Most scholars believe that Mark includes this information because his audience includes Gentile Christians who have no knowledge or experience of these laws. We can infer, therefore, that many in Mark’s community were not Jewish Christians.

In this Gospel, Mark addresses the question of which Jewish practices would also be observed in the newly emerging Christian community. This was a significant question for the early Christian Church, especially in communities that included both Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity. We also hear this question addressed in the letters of Paul with regard to table fellowship. In Gospel passages such as the one today, we see the Gospel evangelists finding justification for a Christian practice distinct from Judaism in the remembrances of Jesus’ teaching and the practice of his first disciples.

Jesus first criticizes the Pharisees for putting human tradition above God’s Law. Here, Jesus is referring to the tradition of the elders, the teachings of the Pharisees, which extended the ritual-purity laws of Temple worship to everyday Jewish life. Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for making this tradition equal to and as binding as the Law of Moses.

Next, Jesus comments on the meaning behind the Pharisees’ language of holiness—clean and unclean. Jesus teaches that a person is not defiled by the food that enters his or her body, but rather by sin that emerges from his or her words and actions. In this teaching, Jesus unmasks a deeper question behind the one posed to him by the Pharisees. The real issue is holiness, which is not found in external acts alone. Holiness comes from within and is evidenced in the actions and attitudes that emerge from a person’s life.

If we read today’s Gospel carefully, we will see a pattern in Jesus’ teaching method that will be repeated in the weeks ahead. Jesus’ first teaching is directed to the Pharisees who questioned him. Jesus’ words are then directed to the crowd, teaching that a person is defiled by his or her words and actions, not by the food that he or she eats. In verses omitted in today’s reading, we learn that Jesus returned home with his disciples, who in turn questioned him about what he had taught. The words we read at the conclusion of today’s Gospel are addressed to Jesus’ disciples. Mark’s narrative shows several audiences for Jesus’ teaching: his antagonists, the crowds, and Jesus’ disciples. As we see in this reading, the words to the Pharisees are often words of challenge. The teaching to the crowds is often a general, sometimes cryptic, message. With the disciples, who often misunderstand Jesus’ words, further explanation is offered about his message and its meaning.

Jesus’ words challenge us as well. In our desire to show that we are holy, we might also give too much credence to externals, following rules without thinking about the intention behind them. Jesus reminds us that we do not make ourselves holy by our actions. Rather, we become holy when we allow God’s Spirit to transform us. Our actions should be an expression of the conversion of our heart to God and to God’s ways

August 22 - Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

August 19th, 2021

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First Reading   Joshua 24:1-2a,15-17,18b
Joshua and the people declare that they will serve the Lord.

 

Responsorial Psalm    Psalm 34:2-3,16-17,18-19,20-21
The Lord hears the cries of the just.

 

Second Reading   Ephesians 5:21-32 (or shorter form Ephesians 5:2a,25-32)
Husbands and wives should love one another as Christ loves the Church.

 

Gospel Reading
John 6:60-69
Simon Peter confesses his faith that Jesus alone has the words of the eternal life.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

For our Gospel today we hear the conclusion of the “Bread of Life discourse” in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. In the preceding verses, which we have heard proclaimed in our liturgy over the past few weeks, we have heard Jesus explain that he is the Bread of Life, given so that those who believe may have eternal life. This discourse follows the miracle in which Jesus fed more than five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish. As Jesus has been teaching these things, John’s Gospel describes a murmuring crowd unable to accept Jesus’ words. In today’s Gospel, the crowd has dwindled in number, and John no longer references them, or the Jews. Instead John describes the questioning of those considered to be Jesus’ own disciples.

Today’s Gospel first records the response of those in the crowd who are described as Jesus’ disciples. Just as the larger crowd had struggled with Jesus’ teaching, these disciples also cannot accept Jesus’ words. Jesus is said to know about their murmuring. He responds by acknowledging their unbelief and by reiterating that only those chosen by the Father will follow Jesus to the end. John’s Gospel reports that many of those who had been Jesus’ disciples ceased to follow him at this point. The number of people following Jesus dwindled from a crowd of more than 5,000 to only 12 people. And it is to these Twelve that Jesus now turns his attention.

Simon Peter’s response to Jesus’ question as to whether those closest to him will also leave, reminds us of the reports of Peter’s confession of faith in the Synoptic Gospels. Peter announces, on behalf of all the Twelve, that they have come to believe all that Jesus has taught about himself: Jesus is the one from God in whom they have found the path to eternal life.

This conclusion of the Bread of Life discourse focuses on personal faith in the life of Christian discipleship. Each person must make his or her own judgment about who Jesus is and in doing so determine the way of life that he or she will follow. God’s grace invites us to be Jesus’ disciples, but each person must respond to the grace of God and confess as his or her own the belief that Jesus is the one from God. This faith then commits us to the path of life, leading us to eternal life.

August 15 -Twentieth Sunday of Year B (Bonus Episode on John 6)( Please Find below the episode of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary )

August 13th, 2021

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First Reading  Proverbs 9:1-6
Wisdom has set a feast before us.

Responsorial Psalm   Psalm 34:2-3,4-5,6-7
A prayer of praise to God for his goodness

Second Reading  Ephesians 5:15-20
Filled with the Spirit, Christians strive to follow the will of the Lord.

Gospel Reading
John 6:51-58

Love demands union. The greater the love, the more intimate is the union desired. The lover longs to be joined to the beloved – in thought, in letters, in phone conversations, in physical presence, and ultimately – in spousal love – through the love embrace between husband and wife. So much does Jesus love us that he conceals himself under what looks like bread in order to ravish us in the love embrace of Holy Communion! Such was the meaning of one of the early Church Fathers, St. John Chrysostom, when he wrote: “How many of you say, I would like to see his face, his garments, his sandals. You do see him, you touch him, you eat him. He gives himself to you, not only that you may see him – but also to be your food and your nourishment.”

The Eucharist is a prayer, it is a sacrifice. It is a blessing and it is also a challenge. We have to become what we behold, to become what we receive

August 15 - The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

August 13th, 2021

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First Reading    Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a,10ab
The sign of God's salvation will be a woman clothed with the sun.

Responsorial Psalm    Psalm 45:10-12,16
The queen takes her place next to God.

Second Reading    1 Corinthians 15:20-27
Christ has redeemed Adam's sin.

Gospel Reading
Luke 1:39-56
Mary greets Elizabeth and sings God's praise.

 

Today's feast celebrates Mary's Assumption into heaven. It is one of three feasts of Mary that are Holy Days of Obligation for Catholics in the United States. January 1 is the feast of Mary, the Mother of God, and December 8 is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven has long been held as an important Catholic belief. The belief was not defined as dogma, however, until 1950 by Pope Pius XII. The dogma teaches that Mary, who was without sin, was taken, body and soul, into the glory of heaven.

The Gospel for this holy day recalls Mary's actions after the announcement of Jesus' birth by the Angel Gabriel. Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is also with child. Elizabeth greets Mary with full recognition of the roles they and their unborn children will play in God's plan for salvation. Mary responds to Elizabeth's greeting with her song of praise, the Magnificat. Both women recall and echo God's history of showing favor upon the people of Israel. Mary's Magnificat, in particular, echoes the song of praise offered by Hannah, the mother of Samuel.

The Gospel for this day reminds us that Mary's Assumption into heaven is best understood with regard for the full spectrum of Catholic beliefs about the person of Christ and the person of Mary. Only Mary, who was born without stain of original sin—the Immaculate Conception—could give birth to Christ, who is fully God and fully human. This is called the Immaculate Conception. Because of Mary's role in God's plan of salvation, she does not suffer from the effects of sin, which are death and decay. Mary is the first to receive the fullness of the redemption that her son has won for all of humanity. The Church, therefore, recognizes Mary as the sign of the salvation promised to all.

Today's Gospel highlights Mary's faith. Mary's faith enabled her to recognize the work of God in her people's history and in her own life. Her openness to God allowed God to work through her so that salvation might come to all. Mary is a model and symbol of the Church. May we be like Mary, open and cooperative in God's plan of salvation.

 

August 8 : Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B

August 4th, 2021

 

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First Reading   1 Kings 19:4-8
The Lord feeds Elijah, strengthening him for his journey to Horeb.

 

Responsorial Psalm    Psalm 34:2-3,4-5,6-7,8-9
A prayer of praise to God for his goodness

 

Second Reading   Ephesians 4:30—5:2
The Ephesians are encouraged to be imitators of Christ.

 

Gospel Reading
John 6:41-51
Jesus responds to the murmurs of the crowd, who wonders what he means when he says that he came down from heaven.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

On this Sunday, we continue to read from the “Bread of Life discourse” found in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. Recall that we have been reading from this chapter for the past two weeks and will continue to read from it for another two. Last week, the crowd asked for a sign that would show that Jesus came from God. Jesus replied by saying that he is the sign and the bread of life sent by God. At this point, our Lectionary omits six verses in which Jesus predicts the unbelief of the crowd and further develops his connection with God the Father. In these verses, Jesus says that he was sent by God to do the Father’s will. Jesus promises that those who look upon the Son with faith will find eternal life. Some of these themes are repeated in today’s Gospel reading.

Today’s Gospel begins with a report that the Jews complained about Jesus’ claims regarding his identity. They knew his family, and they knew he was the son of Joseph. They could not comprehend what Jesus meant when he said that he came down from heaven. Jesus responds to the complaints by saying that only those who are chosen by God will recognize him as the one that God sent. This is a recurring theme in John’s Gospel, that God has chosen those who will have faith in Jesus.

In the verses that follow, Jesus talks more about his unity with the Father. He is the one who has seen the Father and, therefore, knows the Father. Those who listen to God will recognize that Jesus is the one sent from God. Those who believe will have eternal life. Jesus concludes with the central element of our eucharistic theology. He promises that the bread of life will bring eternal life to those who partake of it, and he tells us that the bread of life will be his own flesh, given for the life of the world.

In today’s reading, we hear Jesus say again, as he did in last week's Gospel, that he is the bread of life. We also hear Jesus add that he is the living bread. Both of these statements help us understand better the gift that Jesus gives us in the Eucharist. We celebrate this gift of Jesus each time we gather for Mass. We believe that receiving Jesus in the Eucharist will lead us to eternal life.

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